“Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Rm 13:11-14)
Time is an integral part of our lives. Every day, we check the time frequently and live according to a schedule. And, since time is so important, our lives can change based on how we spend our time. Many verses in the Bible talk about time.
Chronos and Kairos
However, in the Bible, there are two different ancient Greek words that are translated into the one English word ‘time.’ The first one is Chronos and the second one is Kairos.
Chronos refers to time that can be measured—seconds, minutes, hours, days, and years. This is the meaning we usually think of when we use the word ‘time.’ Chronos is sequential time that can be quantified. Chronos is linear and always flows from the past to the future. We are born, live, grow old, and die. No one is free from time.
Unlike Chronos, Kairos measures moments, not seconds. Kairos refers to specific, memorable, opportune, and appointed moments. While Chronos is quantitative, Kairos is qualitative.
Paul said in Romans 13:11,
“And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” (Rm 13:11)
Here, Paul urges us to understand the present time. Which word for time do you think Paul used here: Chronos or Kairos? It’s Kairos. Paul is saying that a certain, very important, appointed time is coming. This time is related to our salvation.
But, the salvation here doesn’t refer to our ‘past’ or ‘present’ salvation, which also can be explained in terms of ‘justification’ or ‘sanctification,’ since Paul describes it as being in the future. The time, Kairos, that Paul really wanted us to know and understand is the time when our salvation is completed.
Before ascending to heaven, Jesus promised His disciples that He would come back. And, when He returns, He won’t come as a suffering servant, but as the most glorious Judge, Lord, and King of kings who reigns over the whole world with His justice and righteousness.
On that day, we’ll see Him face to face, join in His resurrection, be clothed with the clothes of resurrection, and enjoy eternal life in His kingdom. This final step of our future salvation is called ‘glorification,’ since we’ll join in Jesus’ eternal glory.
Even though no one except God knows when that time will come, we at least know that it will come because it’s promised in the Bible. That’s the moment we must always look forward to and focus on.
And, if we focus on the eternal moment that God is preparing for us, we won’t really be interested in the temporary things that belong to this world. And, we will use our present time to prepare for that moment.
We don’t know when, but we do know that this Kairos, God’s appointed time, is approaching. Our salvation draws nearer and nearer day by day. And, since we don’t know when it will happen, we need to stay spiritually alert.
While explaining the kingdom of God, Jesus once told a parable about ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
In the story, five foolish virgins took their lamps but didn’t take oil with them and five wise ones took oil along with their lamps. But, the bridegroom took a long time to come, and when he came, the five foolish virgins couldn’t attend the wedding because their lamps had gone out. Only the five wise virgins who had prepared oil could greet the bridegroom.
After telling this story, Jesus said,
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” (Mt 25:13).
That’s how we should treat our relationship with time. Remembering that God’s moment will come and that there will be eternity after that, we are to keep watch and stay awake.
How To Prepare for Kairos?
So, how can we keep watch and stay awake? Remembering that God’s appointed time, Kairos, is coming soon, we are to use our time, Chronos, wisely.
Paul said in Ephesians 5:14-16,
“Awake, O sleeper… and Christ will shine on you. Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph 5:14-16, ESV).
Paul urges us to make the best use of our time. It means that all the things we do using our time, Chronos, must be related to God’s time, Kairos.
That’s how Jesus lived on earth, and how Paul lived. Paul said,
“We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Co 4:18)
Since Paul focused more on eternal things, which are invisible, than on worldly things, which are visible, he could not only overcome all his troubles and persecutions, but also rejoice in difficult situations, because he knew, “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Co 4:17)
So, instead of looking at our time as our own, we should realize that every second is a gift from God and that He is the Lord of our time so that we can view our time as opportunities to prepare for the moment when Jesus returns.
Remembering our time on earth is so short, we should be good stewards of every second God has given us so that we can glorify Him on earth and prepare for eternal life. As good stewards, we’re to use our time in accordance with God’s will.
After explaining that Kairos is drawing near, Paul said,
“So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Rm 13:12-14)
Since Jesus’ ascension to heaven, all the days are last days. So, we should stay spiritually awake, abandon the misdeeds of darkness, and walk in light with Jesus. Rather than using our time to satisfy our desires of the flesh, we are to use it to please God according to His will. That’s how Christians can have a proper relationship with time.
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” (1Jn 3:2-3)